Detecting a Natural Gas Leak
Many homeowners will agree that they prefer natural gas over electricity for cooking, heating their home, and drying their clothes. For the most part, natural gas is convenient, efficient and cost-effective, however, homeowners and renters need to be especially aware of the risk of natural gas leaks and the dangers they impose.
Each year, infants, children, and adults die because of an undetected natural gas leak. Often, these leaks cause death by asphyxiation, but not always. Sometimes, a basement can fill with gas, explode and quickly consume an entire home in flames.
Natural gas (methane) is not poisonous in itself, but what it does is deprive the air of vital oxygen, oxygen human’s need to survive. As the methane reduces the oxygen levels inside a home, the occupants begin to feel dizzy, they feel disoriented and they lose coordination and concentration.
The more the oxygen level decreases in a dwelling, the occupants begin to feel extremely tired. The occupants’ heart rate and breathing increases, nausea sets in, then they lose consciousness and cease breathing.
Not only does methane gas reduce the oxygen levels in an enclosed space, but it’s also highly combustible. Something as simple as using a cigarette lighter or lighting a match could cause an explosion inside a building, especially if there’s just the right mixture of methane gas and oxygen.
If you have a basement, understand that some gas leaks originate in the basement. So, if you smell gas on the second floor, there’s a good chance that enough gas has accumulated downstairs, that you should evacuate the home and call our Kansas City plumbers for professional help.
How to Detect a Gas Leak
- Since natural gas is colorless and odorless, gas companies add a foul-smelling substance called mercaptan so people will have an easier time “smelling” a natural gas leak. Mercaptan has sulfur in it, so it smells like rotten eggs.
- If you hear a hissing or blowing sound coming from your pipes or appliances, it may be a sign that you have a loose connection fitting, a broken seal, or a cracked pipe, which is causing natural gas to leak out.
- An open flame could be a sign that a natural gas pipe or appliance was leaking and started a flame, for example, from an electrical spark.
- If you noticed discolored or dead vegetation near a gas line, this could be a sign of a natural gas leak underground.
- If you notice bubbling or blowing dirt that comes up from dirt or soil, this could indicate a natural gas leak in an underground pipe.
- These leaks can be very dangerous because the soil reduces the sulfur odor that helps us detect a natural gas leak.
To protect your family and your home, we recommend buying a natural gas detector, which runs about $40. Some units only alert you about combustible gases, while others will alert you about gas and carbon monoxide.
If you suspect a natural gas leak, you don’t want to take any chances. You should leave the task of locating and repairing the leak to an experienced professional from A-1 Sewer & Septic Services Inc.